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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Double Your Pleasure - Dock Street Illuminator

Dock Street Illuminator Double Bock

I am definitely a double bock kind of guy. There's just so much going on in there it's hard to know where to begin. The first sip from the bottle doesn't allow the malty aroma to do its thing, so pour it into a glass. There, that's better. The first sip from the glass is crisp and malty. Hops are there but hiding in the shadows. The head is thin but hangs a little bit of paper on the sides of the glass. Quite tasty.

Fast forward.

Since I was sipping and cooking at the same, the Illuminator warmed up a bit over the course of about half an hour. This beer is alive! Warming up this brew releases the alcohol and barleywine-type smoothness that waits for the right moment to make itself known. The head has long since retired and no more lacework on the glass, but my insides are as warm as needs be on a January Sunday.

Distinctly American in style, Dock Street Illuminator Double Bock packs a bit of a kick. I honestly don't know the abv % but it's not for kids. Medium body and lots of flavor. Sip this one. It will pay off in the end. If you're a beginner, take the first sip to catch the head and the cold temperature. But either way, join the illuminati.

Dock Street Illuminator Double Bock

Representation: .8
Accessability: .8
Style: .85
Personal Preference: .9

Total Score: 3.35 Flags

Contact me at president@fermentnation.com

Friday, January 25, 2008

Espress Yourself! Flying Fish Imperial Espresso Porter

Flying Fish is a microbrewery not far from the capital city of FermentNation. Hot off the press is the Imperial Espresso Porter. Ah, porter. That lovely style lounging halfway between ale and stout. Usually known for high drinkability scores because of their smoothness and stable body, porters are just as likely to be experimented upon; coffee and chocolate are good choices because of their smooth bitterness which complements the style itself. (Side note: Stone makes a smoked porter that will knock your socks off.)

Check out the bottle: Flying Fish's Imperial Espresso Porter has a cigar ring on the neck with a 10-year logo reminding us that microbrews are here to stay. Decorated with coffee beans, the label invites us to feel the jolt of this lovely beer. Dark as espresso, this smooth porter definitely showcases the coffee flavor without hijacking the porter feel. Sometimes a coffee stout will go bonkers on the java flavor, giving too much away for a true beer lover but this porter seems to hold true. With a lovely balance and medium body, it earns high drinkability points. Smooth mouthfeel and malty sweetness don't hurt the cause either. Can't wait to try this one on tap.

Tactfully jazzy and extremely drinkable. After killing the first one quite quickly I immediately opened a second. If you try pulling that stunt, I recommend you not have anywhere to go: The Imperial Espresso Porter weighs in at 8% abv. I had bought one to try (since I had never seen it before) and one to share with friends. What friends? They can buy their own. And they should.

Flying Fish Imperial Espresso Porter:

Representation: .9
Accessability: 1.0
Style Points: .8
Personal Preference: .8

Total Score: 3.5 flags

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Oldie but a Goodie - Weihenstephaner Hefe-Weissbier

Weihenstephaner Hefe-Weissbier is recognized as the oldest standing brewery in the world. Originally a monastery founded in A.D. 1040, Weihenstephaner continues to brew magnificent beers to this day. When one loves beer like I do, one tends to visit bars and pubs frequently. And of course, spreading the good word about the best brands and styles sometimes crosses the lines of acceptable public discourse. So when telling someone about the best hefe-weissbeer in the western world, be ready for resistance. "I don't like wheat beers." This isn't just some wheat beer, it's hefe-weissbier. It's Weihenstephaner.

There are some good ones out there: Paulaner is pretty good. Franzikaner is really good. But Weihenstephaner is the goodest of the good. I've had it in bottles and on tap. Slightly different, but signature flavors nail it down. I prefer the draft, but don't hesitate to pick this one up in the bottle (and by the way, YouTube has some fun videos about pouring a hefe-weissbier properly and improperly).

A standard offering at Cork restaurant in Haddon Twp., NJ, Weihenstephaner is a go-to brew for citizens of the FermentNation. The Cabinet frequently meets here for the food as well as the beer. Weihenstephaner is served in a branded glass, a tall weissbier-style vessel which opens up at the top to include a lovely aroma into the drinking experience.

The fragrance is alluring... wheaty and fruity. The flavors are complex: Wheat holds the fruits together but doesn't cloud the orange-ish and B-nanna-ee notes. Cloves hold their own in this brew but don't overpower anything. Many wheat beers are murky and dull; The wheat and yeast sit on your tongue and don't leave room for anything else, but this weissbier kills the stereotype and transcends the style. The carbonation is playful without biting. So you see, Weihenstephaner has a lovely way of moderating all the stylistic elements of a good weissbier. I guess that comes with practice... 968 years of practice.

Weihenstephaner Hefe-Weissbier:

Representation: 1.0
Accessability: 1.0
Style: .8
Personal Preference: .9

Total Score: 3.7 Flags

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Happy Rooster for brunch

December 29th, 2007. Brunch in Philly (pre-game for killer mussels and beers at Monk's). What a cool place! Swanky but not corny. Snazzy, really. No beers on tap, but a few good selections in bottles. The food was good and the music really set the mood in a dancy, jazzy, rocky, loungy kind of way. Highly recommended.

Stoudt's Triple Boc:

Similar to other American craft versions of the Belgian Tripel; Victory's Golden Monkey and River Horse's Tripel Horse come to mind. Most closely resembling Weyerbacher's Merry Monks Ale, the Stoudt's Triple Boc is a lovely rendition. The American craft brewers in this area have really captured the Belgian tradition and made it their own.

Stoudt's never disappoints, of course, and this Triple Boc is no exception. The nose is just a bit floral, and the first taste is a treat. the sweetness doesn't go crazy but it does equal the warming qualities of a good tripel on a chilly day. Is it a bit oily? Yes. Is it a boost for those who like a little kick to their beer experience? Yes. Is it dandy? Yes. A winner in my book.

Stoudt's Triple Boc:

Representation: .75
Accessability: .75
Style Points: .75
Personal Preference: .75

Total Score: 3.0 Flags

Friday, January 18, 2008

Ok, so I drank a lot that day

So it was a long night at Monk's Cafe. But there is a beer out there that cannot be missed if it is on tap: Delirium Tremens. Let's talk movies. Citizen Kane is widely regarded as the best film ever made. Now I don't walk around all day thinking about my next viewing but when I try to think of a better movie, I really can't. In 1997 Delirium Tremens was nominated as the best beer in the world. There are tons of beers I love and would gladly fight over. But if someone were to claim that DT is the best beer in the world, am I willing to fight over it? I should say not. It's a true classic.

Listed as a Belgian strong ale, DT has tripel-like qualities. An interesting blend of yeasts and spices invigorate the tongue. Sometimes this overpowers the taste buds and conquers the subtle wheat essence and the B-Nanna-ee flavor. Delirium Tremens is extremely drinkable, so be careful of the 8.5% abv. Those pink elephants are there for a reason.

Delirium Tremens:

Representation: .9
Accessabiltiy: .8
Style Points: .9
Personal Preference: 1.0

Total Score: 3.6 Flags

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My fellow citizens,

December 29th, 2007 was a good day. Several entries were recorded during an outing to Philadelphia, PA on this day. Maybe next year it will be a FermentNational holiday. La Rulles and several other wonderful brews were sampled at Monk's Cafe on 16th Street in Philly:

Blanche de Bruxelles:
Tastes like the beach! True beer lovers cringe when they hear someone ask the bartender, "Do you have anything like Hoegarden?". If there were a contest, Blanche would win. But there is no contest.

Representation: .75
Accessability: .8
Style: .6
Personal Preference: .6

Total Score: 2.75 Flags

Saturday, January 12, 2008

La Rulles Cuvee Meilleurs Voeux:
Ummmm.... Awesome.
With something for everyone, this brew has just enough malty sweetness to welcome lovers of the brown ale but dry enough to offer shelter from the storm of over-the-top caramelites. Subtle notes of noel without splashing mulled spices in your face. One cabinet member of the FermentNation sticks mainly to Belgian Tripel Ales because of their citrus stylings and refreshing nature; Though La Rulles is dark and rich, she loves this beer. You will too.
Hop-Heads, give it a try. It's not very hoppy but you will welcome La Rulles because it will not leave your taste buds craving anything.

Representation: 1.0
Accessability: .8
Style Points: .75
Personal Preference: 1.0
Total: 3.55 Flags

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Birth of a Nation

Give us your ales, your stouts, your Belgian tripels... Nothing gives us more joy than beer. Finally there is a safe harbor for all beer lovers to come and celebrate this magical beverage. This blog is a living, breathing document, subject to ammendment at any time. Grow with us. Be part of something. Become a citizen of the Ferment Nation!

Allow me to establish the constitution: Beers will be reviewed according to four categories, each with the potential for scoring one whole flag. The total of the four scores can reach a possible 4.0 flags. The categories will be as follows:

  1. Representation. That is, how does this beer compare to others like it?

  2. Drinkability. Would you (or could you) drink more than one?

  3. Style Points. Is it different? Over-the-top? Luxurious?

  4. Personal Preference. Executive decision.

Contact me at president@fermentnation.com

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

How the Scoring Works

Allow me to establish the constitution: Beers will be reviewed according to four categories, each with the potential for scoring one whole flag. The total of the four scores can reach a possible 4.0 flags. Think of the 4.0 grade point average: 4.0 is an "A", 3.0 is a "B". The categories will be as follows:
  1. Representation. That is, how does this beer compare to others like it? How does it rank among other stouts, other IPA's? (maximum of 1.0)

  2. Drinkability. Would you (or could you) drink more than one? (maximum of 1.0)

  3. Style Points. Is it different? Over-the-top? Luxurious? Run-of-the-Mill? (maximum of 1.0)

  4. Personal Preference. Executive decision. Maybe it just is your favorite. (maximum of 1.0)
Add them up and you get your Ferment Nation score.

The Four Flag Scoring System